Setting the standard for the safe use of fragrance materials

The IFRA Standards are the basis of the fragrance industry's system for ensuring the safe use and enjoyment of fragrance materials.

This self-regulatory system sets rules for the use of nearly 200 fragrance materials, including:

  • bans on the use of some materials (Prohibition);
  • rules on the quantities or maximum dose to be used or the products in which certain materials can be used (Restriction); or
  • other conditions on the type of material (Specification).

As with the Code of Practice, the system applies to all IFRA members, covering approximately 90 per cent of the global fragrance industry by production volume.

In all cases the final responsibility for the safe use of any fragrance material put on the market rests with the company supplying the material.

On this page

Trusting the Standards

An independent Expert Panel for Fragrance Safety oversees the safety assessment process to ensure that it is scientifically robust.

The members of the Expert Panel include renowned independent figures from scientific fields such as dermatology, toxicology, pathology and environmental sciences.

The Panel evaluates data on a fragrance material and checks whether that data supports current use levels.

Safety is the overriding consideration: the Panel seeks to ensure that fragrance materials are subject to appropriate safety assessments.

And the Expert Panel can act swiftly and decisively: in cases where the safety assessment does not support current use, the Panel instructs IFRA to issue a Standard either restricting, banning or setting specifications for a material so that it can be used safely.

Importantly, the final decision on the content of the Standard is solely in the hands of the Expert Panel, not IFRA or RIFM - adding an additional layer of independence.

Understanding the Standards

The IFRA Standards set the maximum dose of a fragrance ingredient in finished consumer goods. They are primarily a tool for use by IFRA members in their daily work.

The typical user is a perfumer or someone else with a technical, regulatory or scientific background - and so the format and language of the Standards is written with this audience in mind.

However, we believe that it is an important part of our self-regulatory role to be transparent about the Standards we apply - which is why all of the Standards are available on this website.

Reading the Standards

Given their intended audience, some of the information presented can seem confusing or hard-to-understand for non-experts. We believe it is important to keep the information brief and relevant for a technical audience - but also to give a wider audience the chance to understand what information is in a Standard, and why.

Click here for a short explainer of the key information contained in a typical Standard.

Setting the Standards

The IFRA Standards-setting process principally involves IFRA, the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) and the independent Expert Panel on Fragrance Safety.

We also, through a consultation phase, involve our Members and stakeholders in the process.

Here's how it works:

Step 1: IFRA sends information to RIFM

IFRA sends RIFM information about a fragrance material, including exposure situation (usage concentration, variety of use, volume of use); chemical composition; olfactory profile; olfactory potential

Step 2: RIFM prepares a dossier

RIFM prepares a comprehensive dossier on the material, including all available safety data. If necessary, RIFM initiates and organizes safety studies to fill gaps in knowledge about the material.

Step 3: Expert Panel evaluates

The independent Expert Panel evaluates the data. It checks whether the data supports current use levels in such a way that there is no risk to consumers. If the safety assessment does not support current use, the Panel instructs IFRA to issue a Standard.

Step 4: IFRA prepares a Standard

IFRA prepares a Standard in line with its Standard-setting process

Step 5: Consultation phase

The draft Standard is sent to IFRA's members and stakeholders for consultation. The consultation period allows members and stakeholders to provide IFRA with additional data or scientific studies that may need to be considered in setting the final Standard.

Step 6: Publication and implementation

If no additional information is received during the consultation phase, the final Standard is published as part of an 'Amendment to the IFRA Code of Practice'. Following publication, members have a specified period to change internal systems and apply the Standard.